Big burial site to ease pile-up of carcasses

The disposal
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A giant burial site for animals slaughtered under the foot-and-mouth containment programme has been designated in Cumbria to speed up the disposal of thousands of animals.

A giant burial site for animals slaughtered under the foot-and-mouth containment programme has been designated in Cumbria to speed up the disposal of thousands of animals.

Almost 300,000 animals have either been slaughtered or earmarked for culling, creating huge logistical problems for the contractors brought in to dispose of the remains.

Some farmers have complained that they have been left with dead animals strewn around farmyards for several days after mass culling has taken place. The delays, which stem from the time required to construct giant pyres and the wait for contractors to move animals to rendering plants, have prompted some of the strongest criticisms since the start of the crisis.

The Government has resisted calls to bring the Army in to assist with the slaughter.

The figure of 300,000 represents more than two-thirds of the number of cattle, pigs and sheep slaughtered during the 1967 outbreak, which went on much longer.

Geoff Bateman of the Environment Agency said some culled animals were being buried, but indiscriminate burials would have major environmental repercussions.

"This outbreak will be over shortly, but if we bury animals in the numbers that are being culled - which is far different from the numbers in 1967 - we are going to have environmental problems unless the sites are chosen very carefully.

"We are not stopping burials, but we are saying that we would prefer choices such as rendering and incineration, burning in pyres and landfill to be considered before burial. If you bury something ... that area stays contaminated for quite some time."

The culled animals represent a small proportion of the livestock in Britain. According to the National Farmers' Union, at June last year there were 11.1m cattle and calves, 42.3m sheep and 6.5m pigs.

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